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What was Adam’s Purpose Before the Sin of the Forbidden Fruit?

What was Adam’s Purpose Before the Sin of the Forbidden Fruit?

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Question:

If part of Man’s purpose is to rectify the world from the effects of the sin of the forbidden fruit, what was Adam’s job before he sinned?

Answer:

Man was created for the specific purpose of revealing G‑dliness in this world. Even with regards to Adam before he sinned, the verse states, “Now the L‑rd G‑d took the man, and He placed him in the Garden of Eden to work it and to guard it.” 1

The work referred to here isn’t the physical labor of cultivating and caring for a field, for what labor was needed on a land that produced its produce almost instantly? Rather, the sages explain, it refers to spiritual labor.

Man’s purpose (including Adam’s before the sin) is to reveal G‑dliness in this world, as well as to refine the world and elevate it to a higher spiritual level.2

The Torah itself provides us with a fascinating illustration of what Adam’s job was to be before he sinned with the forbidden fruit and was exiled from the Garden of Eden. The verse tells us, “And G‑d Almighty formed from the earth every beast of the field and every fowl of the heavens, and He brought [it] to man to see what he would call it, and whatever the man called each living thing, that was its name. And man named all the cattle and the fowl of the heavens and all the beasts of the field.”3

Lest one think that this was an easy and simple endeavor, in the midrash our sages expound, “…brought each creature before the angels and asked them, ‘This creature, what is its name?’ But they did not know. Then He brought the creatures before Adam and asked him, ‘This creature, what is its name?’ To which Adam responded, ‘This is shor [Hebrew for ox], this is chamor [donkey]...’4

This of course brings us to the question of why? What was so special about naming the animals that only man could do it?

Every single creation, even a single blade of grass, has its own unique energy source in the spiritual realms. 5

The true name of an object connects the object with its spiritual source. Angels, which are of course spiritual beings, lack the capacity to connect the spiritual with the physical, since they lack the capacity to deal directly with the physical and mundane coarseness of creation. The last time angels descended to immerse themselves completely in this physical mundane world it had disastrous consequences. 6

In all of creation only man, Adam, has the power to connect the physical and mundane with its spiritual source. This is due to the uniqueness of man, who is a physical creation with a body and at the same time contains a G‑dly soul. As the Midrash puts it, “Adam was created both from the upper realms and the lower realms,” 7 and it is for this reason that only Adam could give the animals their true names. 8

This was man’s job in the Garden of Eden. Even more so, now after the sin, it is our job to connect the spiritual with the mundane and coarse world. 9

Please see A Home for G‑d from our selection on A Dwelling for G‑d in the Physical World.

Rabbi Yehudah Shurpin
Ask the Rabbi @ The Judaism WebsiteChabad.org

Footnotes
2.

This is sometimes referred to as the job of elevating the sparks of holiness that have fallen into creation. See Fallen Sparks. Originally, this was not meant to be done by way of a battle, but rather through the revelation of immense light. Then the sparks would have gathered of their own accord, like a large torch that subsumes within itself the smaller flames that surround it.

4.

Avot D'Rabbi Nathan

5.

Midrash Breishit Rabah 10:6

6.

The Midrash on Genesis 6:2 relates that before the Flood, the angels saw that G‑d was not satisfied with the humans' behavior. Two angels, Shamchazi and Uzael said to G‑d, "Didn't we tell You not to create human beings--look what a rotten bunch they are! Let us take care of Your world." G‑d told them, "I know that if you will dwell on the Earth, the evil inclination will rule over you, and you will be even worse than the humans." The angels said, "Let us live on earth, and You will see how we sanctify Your name." In the end they got involved with sin and became even worse than the humans. As to whether Angels can truly sin, see Can Angels Sin.

7.

Midrash Bereishit Rabah 8:11; see also Rashi to Genesis 2:7.

9.

Based on the talk of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory, Likutei Sichot vol. XV p. 13.

Rabbi Yehuda Shurpin responds to questions for Chabad.org's Ask the Rabbi service.
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Pete WA October 14, 2015

The bridge Adam's task was to be a bridge between the divine and the human realms, and to stay human while perceiving the presence of divinity. Reply

Cindy October 9, 2015

Adam and Eve were the first humans to have a real relationship with G-d. G-d wants us to have a relationship with Him. They walked and talked with Him. G-d does not change. it is the same now. His heart for us is to have a real relationship with Him. What was the difference between Abraham and others-relationship with G-d. Moses-relationship. David-relationship. Elijah, Joseph, Daniel -relationship. Reply

Karen Joyce Chaya Fradle Kleinman Bell Riverside, CA, USA August 16, 2012

I believe Adam to be the first humanoid who had a sense of G-d rather than just being a wild being. Of course,, scholars in Judaism can debate this, but the more important moral of the story, to me, is metaphorical. Yes, it has to do with the freedom to choose our behaviors, and is a warning or admonition to choose life, so we may live. Reply

Anonymous port orange, fla October 21, 2011

adam as i was taught,the creator transformed into both the visible and the invisible,such as the atom,for one,you have to understand that all matter is spirit materialized.and it did not stop with the man. man is made in the image and likeness of the creator,the creator blew the breath of life into Adam, and the man became a living soul.the creator simply wrapped himself in a coat of flesh and walked in his own creation, just like all of us are doing day after day. Adam did not work in the garden until after the transgression,which is nothing negative it was not disobedience,it was a coming down out of that heavenly state.Adam and eve were spirit law made manifest.there is so much to say about this topic,but all these things can be proven,and you must prove all things,as it is written.i hope this helped. Reply

Peter Spiro Stevenson, WA August 8, 2011

Torah in the garden It appears to me there was Torah in the garden, consisting of the first law:

"Do not eat from the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil."

And this law was balanced against Adam's freedom to violate it:

"Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat."

Contrary to the wisdom of the world which drives us toward any path in the name of freedom.

Freedom, yes. But within the limits of what is appropriate for us.

I believe God knew that Adam would sin. Not that God forced Adam to sin. Only that given Adam's maturity and experience he was bound to reach for what was not his.

And then?

Then comes you and me. And everything else, to see if we can undo what one man began.

And how do we do that?

Exchanging our freedom to sin for our right not to.

And we all know what that entails, even if we pretend we do not. Reply

Bev Robinson, IL June 22, 2011

Walking with Gd You said it pretty plain, we are physical and spiritual beings. While we walk, we walk with Gd. Keep focus on listening to Gd, not serpents. We are in this world, lower compared to heaven. In this world, life cycles is changing from birth to death, like the 4 seasons. The work given, to stay free from influences contrary to our spiritual nature that comes from above. That would cause a spiritual death (not walking with Gd). Adam's purpose was walking with Gd. Doing what Gd told him to do. Reply

Carmen June 21, 2011

And Torah?What about Torah? And Torah?What about Torah in the Garden and in Adam's life? Reply

bruce glencoe, IL June 20, 2011

Didn't G-d know that Adam would sin since G-d theoretically knows the future, past and present.

If so, why did he give Adam any work? Reply

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